Many people with lactose intolerance cut back on the amount of dairy they consume or eliminate the food group altogether. Normally the body breaks down lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in yoghurt, milk and other dairy products, using an enzyme called lactase, and these sugars are absorbed by the body to provide energy.
Just like in Australia and most Western countries, the Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults recommend people who can tolerate dairy consume two serves – such as 250ml of milk and 150g of yoghurt – each day. Why? Dairy is a nutrient powerhouse full of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B12 and riboflavin, and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and, of course, calcium.
Full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat, which is linked to increased concentrations of 'bad' cholesterol and heart disease, and even though some research shows the saturated fat found in red meat is more damaging for the heart than the saturated fat found in dairy, it's best to stick to low-fat milk and yoghurt.